How to Grow Crystals

Growing crystals at home is a fun and easy project that you can carry out with some easily available supplies. Here is some information on how to grow crystals from salt and sugar, which you can experiment at home itself.
The interesting part about this project is that it is easy to perform and requires commonly occurring substances. Hence, to experiment formation of crystals at home, you do not need to take extra effort for gathering the requirements.

There are so many examples of crystals in and around our environment, out of which salt, sugar and gemstones are most common. Any type of crystal is made up of repeating structures (atoms, molecules, ions) that give it a specific shape and pattern.

The task of growing crystals is based on the natural phenomenon, wherein a particular solvent can hold a specific concentration of the solute at a given temperature. In case the temperature drops down, the solute starts depositing in the nearest available surface. If you are planning to grow crystals at home, either for science project or for decorative purposes, then you can do so by following simple tips. What you need is a standard solvent and a solute that readily dissolves in the solvent.

Growing Crystals with Salt
Required Supplies
  • Water
  • Table salt
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Clean glass container
  • Cardboard piece or paper clip
  • Stirring spoon
  • Pencil
  • Cotton string
Steps for Growing Salt Crystals
  • In a saucepan, boil 1 cup clean water and pour it into a glass jar.
  • Add about 2-3 cups of salt, in small amounts, while stirring continuously. Be patient and add salt one teaspoon at a time.
  • Bring the solution to a saturation point, in which the salt no longer dissolves in the water solvent.
  • If you notice settling of salt at the bottom of the glass in spite of continuous stirring, then the solution is saturated. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring as per your choice.
  • Tie one end of a string to a piece of cardboard or paper clip and the other end to the middle of a long pencil.
  • Drop the paper clip or cardboard tied at the end of the string into the glass jar containing saturated salt solution.
  • Adjust the pencil on the rim of the jar so that the cardboard piece falls in the solution and suspended just above the bottom of the jar with the string hanging in the center.
  • Then, place the glass jar in a corner, where it will not be disturbed for the next 24-48 hours.
  • After 24 hours, you will notice colorful salt crystals forming on the cardboard piece.
Growing Crystals with Sugar
Required Supplies
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Food coloring
  • Glass jar
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Pencil
  • Paper clip
  • Cotton string
Steps for Growing Sugar Crystals
  • In a saucepan, add about 1 cup water and bring it to a boiling point.
  • Carefully, pour the boiling water into a clean glass jar and start adding sugar.
  • You can stir in one teaspoon sugar at a time, until the solution has reach its saturation point.
  • Similar to the above procedure of growing salt crystals, the extra sugar will start settling at the bottom of the glass, when the sugar solution is saturated.
  • The next step is to add few drops of food coloring that you have chosen for imparting in the sugar crystals.
  • Tie the two ends of the string, one in the center of a pencil and the other in a paper clip.
  • Place the pencil on top of the jar, in such a way that the paper clip is almost at the center the glass jar. And adjust the string to let it fall in the center of the glass jar.
  • Allow the glass jar to settle down in a corner and ensure that it is not disturbed for at least 24 hours.
  • The next day, you will notice colorful sugar crystals growing on the sides of the paper clip.
In brief, the procedures for growing crystals are almost the same, except the solute is different.
By Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Published: 1/15/2010
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